Yesterday Oceana and its supporters braved foul weather to protest a truly foul idea. Armed with airhorns and megaphones they gave the Department of the Interior (DOI) a tiny preview of what is in store for the ocean’s inhabitants should the Department allow seismic airgun testing to go forward in the Atlantic Ocean.
The DOI is currently reviewing a proposal to use seismic airguns to search for pockets of oil and gas in a huge expanse of ocean from Delaware to Florida. The effects of these round-the-clock tests, which will run for days on end with dynamite-like blasts firing at 10 second intervals, will be devastating to marine mammals and fish alike.
As Oceana marine scientist Matthew Huelsenbeck said at the event:
“There is only one word that I can use that sums up this proposal: unacceptable. The levels of impacts to protected dolphins and whales, including critically endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale are simply unacceptable.”
Just in time for Secretary Salazar’s visit to the U.S. Arctic, today our colleagues in Alaska released the results of a new nationwide poll on offshore drilling. The poll, conducted by David Binder Research, shows that Americans overwhelmingly support a precautionary approach to offshore drilling.
According to the poll, 88 percent of the American public thinks it is important for there to be a science-based approach to decision-making and for response capabilities to be in place before any drilling occurs, even if it slows the timeframe for oil drilling.
Yesterday the Obama administration issued a new moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling through Nov. 30 in order to ensure that oil and gas companies implement safety measures to reduce risks.
Oceana’s senior campaign director Jackie Savitz commended the president for the decision in an AP article, and had this to say about it:
“The Administration has no choice but to put a hold on offshore drilling. New drilling poses major risks, which we simply can not take, especially while thousands of victims of the ongoing drilling disaster continue to wait for an end to this oil and gas nightmare.
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
That, essentially, is what Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar acknowledged with his approval of the Cape Wind project, the nation's first offshore wind farm, which has been in the works for nearly a decade.
Oceana's chief scientist and senior vice president Mike Hirshfield had this to say about the big decision:
"We hope that today’s decision on Cape Wind will help set in motion a series of actions leading to additional American offshore wind projects. It sends a clear signal to turbine manufacturers and supporting companies that the U.S. means business on clean energy and climate change.”
We have a long way to go on offshore wind in the U.S., but this is a crucial first step, especially in light of this month’s oil spill in the Gulf, which is oozing ever closer to landfall. After crews were unable to stop the oil spill with underwater robots, they are trying a new tack: setting it on fire.